Every third Thursday of each month, Idaho Director of Athletics Dr. Rob Spear will post a new blog entry directed towards Vandal fans. Dr. Spear will use these monthly communiqués to set the record straight and talk to you – Vandal to Vandal..
An archive of previous blog entries can be accessed here.
This is the first in a three-part series that focuses on new WAC membership, future WAC membership and future facility plans.
So where do we go from here? With the Western Athletic Conference reconfigured and the Dome project complete, that is a fair question. As everyone knows, the Western Athletic Conference has seen its share of upheaval over the past 12 months but has rallied to stabilize itself with 10 members, which includes five new members. Let's take a look at the five new members:
Texas State - located in San Marcus, Texas - just 50 miles north of San Antonio. Texas State is the fifth largest university in the state of Texas with 32,500 students. It's most famous alum is former President Lyndon B. Johnson. Texas State recently completed a major renovation of its 16,000-seat football stadium and hired Dennis Franchione as its new football coach. Franchione was the head football coach at TCU, Alabama and Texas A&M.
UT-San Antonio - located in San Antonio, Texas and is the eighth largest university in the state of Texas with more than 30,000 students. UT-San Antonio will play football for the first time this year under the direction of Larry Coker, the former Miami coach who won a national championship in 2001. UT-San Antonio will play its home football games in the Alamo Dome.
UT Arlington - located within the Dallas Fort-Worth metroplex is the fourth largest institution in the state of Texas with almost 33,000 students. UT-Arlington currently does not sponsor football but did sponsor the sport until 1985. There have been some overtures that entry into the WAC will give UT-Arlington a stronger platform to study adding football in the future. UT-Arlington will open a new basketball arena this year.
University of Denver - located in Denver, Colo., it is the oldest private institution in the Rocky Mountain region of the United States with an enrollment of 11,800 students. The University of Denver is a National Tier 1 University with an endowment of $257 million. It sponsors 17 intercollegiate sports of which 11 are WAC-sponsored sports.
Seattle University - located in Seattle, Wash., is the largest independent university in the Northwest with more than 7,500 students. It sponsors 17 intercollegiate sports of which 16 are WAC-sponsored sports. Seattle U has a rich athletic history and in the 1960s produced more NBA players than any other school. NBA Hall of Fame member Elgin Baylor is one of its most notable alums.
The addition of these five institutions brings WAC membership to 10 teams, which will create greater flexibility in basketball scheduling and positions the WAC in several major media markets. The addition of UTA and the Dallas (5) metroplex, San Jose/San Francisco (6), Seattle (13) and Denver (17) gives the WAC a presence in four top-20 media markets. With Salt Lake City (32), San Marcos/San Antonio (37), Spokane (75), Shreveport (83) and El Paso/Las Cruces (97), the WAC has all 10 of its institutions in the top 100 media markets. These media markets will significantly help the WAC in securing more lucrative television rights fees contracts in the future.
As we will discuss future membership in the next installment of this series, you will see television revenue is a major factor in improving competitiveness and securing new membership.